Terri Ferguson Smith
"Look what you have done."
That's what children often hear from harried parents, but the students of Poplar Springs Elementary can take those words home with them for the holidays knowing that they have helped less fortunate children.
On Friday, the school was filled with parents, teachers, and students from pre-K through the fifth grade who attended the school's Giving Feast to see the results of their annual toy drive. Following a program of Christmas music, the stage curtains opened to reveal hundreds of presents donated to the Wesley House ministry. Students bring in gifts throughout the month of December, but they aren't allowed to see the massive collection of toys until assembly day.
Approximately 550 students attend PSE and they are all encouraged to donate in keeping with the school's tradition of giving to Wesley House that started 27 years ago, according to LaVonda Germany, principal.
"One thing about Poplar Springs is we are built on family and along with family comes traditions," Germany said. "At Christmas, a lot of times with children, it's just 'This is what I want.' It's important for them to know that we learn to read; we learn to write but we have to learn how to give also. Giving back to the community that we live in is an essential part of life and we want our children to understand that truly giving is more important than receiving."
Parents and students applauded loudly as they saw the stage stacked with gifts and as older student rolled several new bicycles to the stage.
"It's at this presentation that they see what their collective efforts have done," Germany said.
"They only see the one gift or two gifts that they bring in individually and so they don't get to see them all together until the curtains are opened."
Brianna Michaels, fourth grade student at PSE, said she is glad to participate in the toy drive.
"It's really heartwarming because people care about others," Brianna said. "It's really beautiful to see all the toys that people bring in."